Pop Art-Inspired Faux Food

For our first Art Club clay project this year the theme was junk food, inspired by Pop Artists like Claes Oldenburg.  The students created clay sculptures using simple forms like spheres, cones, slabs, coils and pinch pots and practiced sculpting and attaching pieces of clay to create life-sized, realistic looking food. The fired pieces were painted with tempera paint.

Close-Up Snowmen

Third graders are wrapping up the semester with a close-up snowman painting. This lesson comes from the blog Deep Space Sparkle. We used 9×12″ blue construction paper, oil pastels, white tempera paint, brushes and cotton swabs. Most of the class was able to finish in one 45 minute class period, and the results were great. We talked about perspective, view point, and how to crop images to create a detailed, close-up view. They learned that part of the image will overlap the edge of the page, and they need to draw bigger to make it appear close up. They drew some large, overlapping circles that ran off the edge the paper with a black oil pastel. They added faces, scarves, hats, and an arm, all colored in with oil pastels except for the white snow. They carefully painted the white areas with small brushes and added snowflakes with cotton swabs.

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Third Grade students continued their study of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings by taking a look at “The Sunflowers”. This is one in a series of paintings on the same subject.

The students took a look at the painting and the types of colors and shapes that were used. I pointed out that though the flowers are all the same type, Van Gogh painted each one differently, noting the details. This kind of up-close study of common objects is called a Still Life Painting. The students used oil pastels to create a still life of flowers in a vase. I placed a real vase of flowers on a table for them to observe, though many students were creative about their interpretation. When we colored them in, I asked the students to mix colors together to create intermediate colors (like red violet or yellow green) this also helps give it a thick, painted look.

The results are very colorful. Some of the students used a toothpick to scrape away oil pastel to add layers of color and texture.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Mrs. Bearden!

The Scream Self-Portrait

This week the third grade students are learning about Edvard Munch’s famous painting, “The Scream” (Just in time for Halloween!). The painting is an example of Expressionism, which distorts reality to emphasize an emotion, which in this case, is fear or terror. Students speculate about who the figure is and why they might be screaming. After sharing their ideas based on the clues in the painting, I share some background information about the artist and possible explanations for this work. Munch lived in Oslo, Norway and began this painting (part of a series of work) in 1893. According to his diary, one night he was walking home  on a bridge and was struck by the red color of the sky and the blackish blue color in the river below.  Some historians speculate that the discoloration may have been a result of a volcanic eruption of Krakatoa, although it could just be an artistic distortion in Munch’s expressionist style. 

The screaming figure in the foreground of the painting is very expressive with wide eyes and an open mouth on a very distorted face. The body is wavy and seems unsteady. Using these elements, the students created an expressive portrait of themself in the setting of the painting. The idea came from a blog called Dali’s Moustache that I stumbled upon. The kids have a lot of fun drawing their own screaming portrait, and they learn that art can be used to express a particular emotion.

Rainbow Fish

This is one of my favorite lessons for kindergarteners. We read Mark Pfister’s book, The Rainbow Fish, and each student drew a fish using shapes and lines. We colored them with crayons. Just like the rainbow fish, I had some shiny, shimmery “scales” made of tinfoil to share with each student. They could tear them into pieces and glue them on their fish. Finally, we use liquid watercolors to paint the background with cool colors. I will post examples of the finished projects as soon as the students finish.

American Gothic Parody

Fourth Grade students are beginning a unit on the American artist Grant Wood. From his humble beginnings on a small farm in Iowa, Grant Wood became one of America’s most famous Regionalist painters. His painting, American Gothic, painted in 1930, is now recognized by millions around the world. It has become an icon much like the Mona Lisa. The students looked for clues within the painting to guess the time and place. They described the background buildings, the style of dress and expressions on the two figures pictured as serious, plain, and   old-fashioned.

I gave each student a photocopied image of American Gothic. I asked them to create an artistic parody of the painting. I showed them examples of parodies where the farmer and daugther are dressed up as rock stars, cartoon characters and super heroes. A parody is a humorous imitation that changes the tone of a famous work. The students get a chance to poke fun at this iconic work and bring it in to the 21st century. I usually do this project around Halloween and the students all have a lot of fun “dressing up” the characters with a new twist.

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Colorful Cats

This project idea came from Art Projects for Kids, one of my favorite sites for great projects and lesson plan ideas. Second grade students are learning how to draw animals using simple shapes and how to incoporate a variety of color schemes in their art. This was their first real project of the year, and though the basic idea is very simple, the results were very successful.


  • Students fold their paper in half vertically and horizontally to divide the paper into four sections.
  • Using a circle template, students trace the cat’s face on the top half of the paper and add eyes, nose, ears, whiskers, etc.
  • Using the template again, create the bottom half of the body with the front legs and tail. Add a horizontal line for the ground.
  • Drawing is traced with a black permanent marker.
  • On the second day of the project, the students color in the entire page using oil pastels. Instead of using realistic colors, they use different colors in each quarter of the picture. Every time they cross a line, they use different colors.


  • 9×12″ drawing paper
  • pencils
  • circle templates
  • oil pastels


Recycled Kaleidoscopes

What can you do with an empty Pringles container? Make amazing recycled kaleidoscopes!


  • cleaned, empty Pringles cans with clear lids
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • multicolored Sharpies
  • various decorative papers, sequins, etc. to decorate outside
  • mirror board (I found some sold in 8×10″ sheets from Sax Arts and Crafts) cut into 2 1/4″ strips


  • Decorate clear lid with colorful designs using permanent markers.

  • Wrap and cover outside of Pringles can with paper and decorations (we added some holographic elements and plastic jewels).

  • Punch hole in the bottom (I held the can while students used a hammer and screwdriver to punch a hole in the bottom).
  • Tape 3 mirror board strips together to form a triangular prism to slide inside.

  • Look through the hole while turning the lid and holding towards a light to see some dazzling designs!

Kandinsky Circles

"Squares with Concentric Rings" Wassily Kandinsky, 1913.

Kindergarten and First Grade students are learning how to mix primary colors to create secondary colors with different art materials. For this project, we used tempera paint in the primary colors and white. Inspired by Wassily Kandinsky’s painting “Squares with Concentric Rings” we talked about how artists like to experiment with different color arrangements and combinations.


  • 12×18″ paper
  • pencils
  • foam trays for paint mixing
  • tempera paint in primaries (red, yellow, blue) and white
  • brushes and rinsing cups


  • We folded the paper in half 3 times to create eight square boxes that I asked the students to trace
  • Inside each square, I asked the students to draw concentric circles big enough to fill the space
  • We began painting by using the primary colors in their pure form, then mixed them with one another to create secondary colors, and then added white to create tints (light colors)
  • Using the colors they mixed, the students fill in each ring of the circles and the squares around them with different colors.